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How to protect your privacy while surfing the Web from your mobile device

 | Updated
by Staff Writer

Hand touching privacy app on screen

This post has been modified to reflect new information since its original publication.

According to a 2022 study, 90% of people access the internet via a smartphone.

But is using your mobile device for email, social networking, calendar planning, and more, safe? What kinds of risks are you taking when you use your mobile phone instead of your computer?

This article will offer advice on how to protect your privacy while surfing the Web from your mobile device.

Lock your phone when it’s not in use

If you have a smartphone, there’s a good chance you have one-click access to your email, Facebook account, and any number of other personal services. That’s why it’s important to use your phone’s lock mechanism when you’re not using it.

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Cell phone locks range in complexity depending on the make and model of the phone you’re using, but many of them include some kind of numerical code or bio identifier. You may think it’s annoying to have to punch in your code or scan your thumbprint every time you want to make a call, but consider the alternative. If your phone is lost or stolen and you don’t have a lock in place, then someone could pick it up and immediately gain access to all your personal information.

Surf smart and avoid spammy apps

When you’re surfing the Web from your mobile phone, you should follow the same common-sense rules you would use if you were on your home computer. For example, don’t visit websites that are likely to have viruses and malware, don’t share personal information with strangers, and make sure to avoid clicking on any suspicious-looking links in your social media accounts.

Another area of concern for smartphone users is malicious applications. Most smartphones are tied to an online store for purchasing games, productivity tools, and other applications. If you’re considering purchasing or downloading a new app, do your due diligence, and check it out. Also, always ask yourself if the value of the app is worth the possible risk.

Use location-based apps carefully

While location-based services that enable users to check in or share their locations via their mobile phone may be convenient, there are downsides to using them.

For example, every time users check in to a location publicly, they’re telling the world exactly where they are and, conversely, exactly where they’re not. Law enforcement officials warn that location sharing could lead to home burglary if you tell the world that you’re away from your house for the night. The issue of cyberstalking is also a concern, particularly if children or teens are involved.

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Just as with downloading apps, using geo-location services means using common sense. You must always weigh the value of sharing against the risk of giving up some of your privacy.

Think twice about sharing photos

Besides the ability to make calls, most modern mobile devices also have impressive photo and video capabilities. As such, it’s easy to see how a snapshot can spread across the internet in a matter of seconds.

Snapping and sharing photos from your phone is a cool way to keep your friends and family connected with what you’re doing. It’s also an amazing way to share breaking news. However, before sharing any photos from your phone, you should think twice about who might see them and how these images might reflect on you.

If you’re posting the images on Twitter or Facebook and you haven’t locked down your privacy settings, then you run the risk of exposing the photos to the whole world. Additionally, if you’re moving quickly and not paying attention, you might share the wrong photo from your phone, accidentally revealing something that you meant to be private.

When it comes to protecting your privacy on mobile devices, remember to use good sense and to think first before sharing anything online. Your online reputation isn’t static; it’s dynamic. As mobile devices become ever more powerful, always remember that what you do on your phone is tied to your personal and professional identity.

Rob Frappier is Community Manager for ReputationDefender.